Los Angeles' 22-year span without an NFL team is coming to an end this season as the Rams return to the city after playing in St. Louis since 1995. The team is promoting its return in a new ad campaign that features its players leaping over famous L.A. landmarks, and it's looking toward long-term tactics to keep fans interested after the initial buzz wears off.
The Rams and Art Machine, the team's creative agency of record, worked with the NFL to develop the tagline, "We're Home," which appears on outdoor ads and billboards featuring larger-than-life versions of Rams players Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald and Tavon Austin catching passes and carrying the ball against the backdrop of the downtown skyline, beaches and landmarks like the Griffith Observatory.
"We wanted to show players as larger than life, help people recognize key players and show off the city," said John McMahon, president and creative director of Art Machine.
For the team's first year back in Los Angeles, the Rams are focusing on targeting fans who grew up or moved to the city when it was without a football team, said Kevin Demoff, COO of the Rams.
"Those who were here when there were two teams [the Rams and the Raiders, who also left L.A. in 1994] remember those days and still have allegiances, and many of those fans stuck with the Rams," Demoff said. "Our real target is people who have never had a chance in their Los Angeles lives to buy season tickets and be engaged and see a live NFL game."
This year's season tickets for the Rams sold out in six hours. The goal after the season is to keep that momentum going, Demoff said.
"We're fortunate to launch with tremendous buzz and demand, but we're not sure where the brand is going to end up right now—that's evolving because we've only been in the marketplace for six months," he said. "[The current campaign] is an interim piece about coming home and introducing our players. A year from now, we'll be in a different place."
Added McMahon: "Long term, we want to have the heart of the Dodgers and the showmanship of the Lakers and the grit of the Kings. As we build the brand, we're looking at how we can fit within the L.A. sports landscape and build loyalty with the fans here."
The Rams' new stadium and new uniforms in 2019 also will play into the team's marketing efforts, Demoff said. "We want to capture that excitement of the first year and transition people away from what the brand is now to where it's going. The challenge is in continuing to grow the fan base."